Maybe it’s DNA left over from Viking ancestors, maybe it’s grown out of an appreciation of all kinds of food, but I love learning about different people and places. So a highlight for me at the 2018 CAGP Conference was hearing Bobbi Sahni speak about diversity.

A regular game I play at conferences now is to watch for how many diverse identities are represented: are there presenters from both genders, or individuals who are from visibly different ethnic backgrounds? How about representing a spectrum of ages?

And those are just the differences I can see from afar, what about the ones I can’t see and only know if the speaker chooses to reveal an identity that shapes their world view, like what’s their sexual orientation? Political position? Aboriginal heritage? The more variety present, the happier I feel.

In the workshop that I attended and his plenary presentation, Bobbi highlighted that in Canada we welcome over 300,000 immigrants a year, people who bring all kinds of emotional and cultural baggage, along with their suitcases. That ‘cultural baggage’ isn’t a bad thing, but we do need to be aware, especially as fundraisers, of what is held important, and how generosity is expressed, and that it varies radically within different cultural backgrounds.

I found this especially relevant juxtaposed to Darren Pries-Klassen’s presentation which highlighted the shrinking nature of the traditional religious populations of Canada, and the profound impact that will have on the charitable sector.

It seems clear that as how we understand and integrate diversity into our everyday lives, we will need to do the same for our actions and expectations as fundraisers.

Of course, although Bobbi and Darren gave me lots to think about, the Frank Talks presentation that still stands out most is that of Malcolm Burrows, who stripped down to the bare essentials for CAGP 2017 – literally.


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